UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s campaign for a second term as UN leader gathers pace today when he is to formally announce that he wants to stay on as secretary-general, diplomats said.
With no declared rival for the post and none of the five permanent members of the Security Council opposing Ban, the 66-year-old former South Korean foreign minister is certain to get a new five-year term, envoys said.
His current mandate ends on Dec. 31, but the Security Council powers — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US — want to see the selection process handled quickly, diplomats said.
Ban will hold a press conference today, following a meeting with the Asian group of nations at the UN, at which he is expected to announce his formal candidacy.
Approval by the 15-member Security Council and then a vote at the 192 country UN General Assembly should be pushed through by the end of this month, UN envoys said.
“It is 100 percent certain that he will get the post again,” one envoy from a Security Council member said.
Ban made a quiet start to his term as the successor to Kofi Annan in 2007, with some envoys saying his awkward English had not helped his image. He championed the battle against global warming, but the collapse of the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit was a blow.
He also insists that quiet diplomacy is sometimes necessary, but has been criticized by rights groups for not speaking out more forcefully against rights abuses in major countries like China.
Ban suffered particular criticism from rights groups for not speaking publicly about China’s detention of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) last year.
However, he has been praised by Western nations for his strong stance on the Ivory Coast crisis and defending protesters taking part in the uprisings that erupted this year across the Middle East and North Africa.
He has repeatedly tangled by telephone in recent months with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, chiding them as diplomatically as possible for not giving their people more freedom.
The action annoyed China and Russia, which oppose what they consider unjustified interference in a country’s domestic affairs.
“But he is skilled at acting and speaking in a way so that none of the permanent five [Security Council powers] can really complain,” a UN diplomat said.
And Ban has been to the capitals of all of the permanent members, who could in theory veto his reappointment, in recent months to shore up his support.
The UN leader has a strict work discipline, getting into the office at 7:30am and often staying to make calls around the world until past 8pm. He is also one of the best-traveled world leaders, clocking up hundreds of thousands of air miles each year.
On top of his defense of Arab protesters, Ban has also earned praise for his aggressive championing of women’s rights. He set up a special UN super agency for women that is now run by former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet.
Ban has also made nuclear disarmament a special cause.
A career diplomat, Ban attended Seoul National University in the 1960s when he took part in pro--democracy protests in South Korea.